Monday, August 13, 2007

Definition & History of a Hippie

Recently, someone came to me to apologize that she had called me a hippie.

'That's cool, I don't care what you call me. I mean it could be worse.'

She said that she wanted me to know that she said that because she thought I had a peaceful & understanding attitude that allowed me to understand & accept a variety of people, situations, circumstances & such without looking at the superficial influences of society. I laughed and said 'Well, thank you...I'm glad to know that it didn't mean that you thought I was eating psychedelic mushrooms & celebrating free love....even though I will gladly hug anyone' I came home & pulled out my Random House dictionary, copyrighted 1970. It does not even have the word 'Hippie' in it. So I looked the word up on and here is what I found...

n. pl. hip·pies
A person who opposes and rejects many of the conventional standards and customs of society, especially one who advocates extreme liberalism in sociopolitical attitudes and lifestyles.

Interesting... this definition to have nothing to do with the personal definition given to me by above mentioned person. So I have done some research & thought I might share with you what I have found about the word 'Hippie' and the history of Hippies.

The terms hipster and hippie derive from the word 'hip.' The term hipster was coined by Harry Gibson in the 1940's to describe jazz performers. One of the first recorded usages of the word hippie was in a radio show in 1945, in which Harry the Hipster aka Harry Gibson, was called a "Hippie".

Years later, in his 1964 autobiography, Malcolm X referred to the word hippy as a term that African Americans used to describe a white person who "acted more Negro than Negroes."

The more contemporary sense of the word hippie first appeared in print on September 5, 1965 in the article "A New Haven for Beatniks" In that article, Fallon wrote about the Blue Unicorn coffeehouse, using the term hippie to refer to the new generation of beatniks who had moved from North Beach into the Haight-Ashbury district.

Use of the term hippie did not catch on in the masses until 1967, after San Francisco columnists Herb Caen began referring to hippies in his daily columns.

The foundation of the hippie movement finds historical precedent as far back as the counterculture of the Ancient Greeks, espoused by philosophers like Diogenes of Sinope, Socrates & the Cynics, ... who believed in a a life of poverty, self-sufficiency & the suppression of desires. Other influences upon hippies include the ideas of Jesus Christ, Buddha, Krishna, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi and more.

In fin de si├Ęcle Europe (1890-1914), a back-to-nature movement began. Thousands of young Germans rejected the rapid trend toward urbanization and attempted to return to the natural, pagan, and spiritual life of their ancestors.

In the first several decades of the twentieth century, these beliefs were introduced to the United States as Germans immigrated in & settled into California's warm climate which allowed for alternative lifestyles & saw the opening of the first health food stores. Their beleifs and practices were quickly adopted by other young Americans.

Eden Ahbez wrote a hit song called Nature Boy, which was recorded in 1947 by Nat King Cole, popularizing the homegrown back-to-nature movement in California to mainstream America. Since then, this song has been featured in countless movies, including Moulin Rouge. The gist of this song is that the greatest thing in life is 'to love and to be loved.' Twenty years later, a few of these 'Nature Boys,' including the famous Gypsy Boots, (who is accredited for mainstreaming alternative fitness lifestyles such as yoga & organic foods) made their way to Northern California in 1967, just in time for the Summer of Love in San Francisco.

Another influence were members of the Jamaican Rastafari movement who wore long hair (called dreadlocks), smoked pot as a sacrament, rejected the establishment and espoused a back-to-nature and back-to-their-Aftrican-roots philosophy. The 1950's saw a large immigration of Jamaicans into the UK, influencing the developing UK hippie movement, with contacts often formed when young whites would buy cannabis from black communities.

The Beatniks of the 1950's found themselves often being referred to as 'Hippies' in the 1960's although there were technically some differences between these two counter sub-cultures. Beatniks were known for their goatees, their poetry & their dismal clothing. While not known for being particularly political, the term 'Beatnik' became very commercialized in the early 1960's. 'Hippies' were known for their long hair, their bright clothing & their activity in anti-war movements & this term became more commercialized years later...

With the introduction & popularization of LSD (see Timothy Leary ) & the new folk psychedelic rock-n-roll (see the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane , Jimi Hendrix & Buffalo Springfield, among others) of the 1960's, many young people dropped out of college & began to live communally, centering their life around art, music & personal expression. In fact, by 1966 about 15,000 youth had moved into the Haight & they found their world centered around a group called the Diggers, an artistic theater group who wanted to create a free city...often providing impromptu artistic venues, including drama, music & traditional artwork, as well as free food, transportation, medical supplies & even temporary housing. Woodstock, The Summer of Love, Monterey Music Festival & Altamont led many Hippies to travel together in their 'art' vehicles and/or to hitchhiking, which was considered environmentally friendly as well as economical. These events, especially the Summer of Love, led more & more hippies to pacified political protests & marches against war & for civil rights (even though Altamont did show violence could happen even with Hippies)
The advent of the 'Pill' led many to a greater devotion of individual rights, particularly among women & the Womens' Rights Movement.
Over the years, Hippies have been influenced by & have influenced religious perspectives, health & fitness attitudes, political agendas, social & personal lifestyle choices, artistic expressions, mass media, commercial ventures & fashion styles....among other things.

Socrates & Jesus Christ & Gandhi... The Grateful Dead & Bob Dylan... Rastafarians & Germans & the Youth... Yesterday & today & tomorrow... 'Hippie' seems to just be a 'new' least, it wasn't in my dictionary.


skinnylittleblonde said...

I know it's long ... it coulda been 10x longer and hey, at least, I'm not talking about divorce! ;)

kimbies said...

and we are long legged, so keep truckin! lol do you remember that from the 70's.

singleton said...

Peace, little one, and love
lots and lots of love

Scott from Oregon said...

Out here, we've got most of our hippies rounded up and living on a reservation called "Takilma".

JustRun said...

Pffffft, I guess I'm a hippie. :)

Mel said...

Gosh....of all the things someone COULD call a person, 'hippie' is pretty complimentary!

Bless her heart.
I think she captured bits of you really well.

G-d bless the hippies of the world.

karma lennon said...

I love this post! I think "hippie" is pretty complimentary too. I never minded when my friends called me that or "Flower" (which was short for flower child). It just evokes a certain imagery to me, a certain feeling which is nice.

I really want to go re-read "Dharma Bums" now....

skinnylittleblonde said...

Kimbies~ Lol...Hang Ten Sister, these boots were made for walking & that's just what they'll do...we're on the road to find out, so like a band of gypsies, here we go! ;)

Singleton~ Yup, peace & love...age old ideas! May the circle go unbroken. xoxoxox

Scott~ Lol it seems like that has been a home for many over the past thirty years or so... there are people about my age born there. so, have you ever been there?

Just Run~ I think most all of us have a little hippie inside ... just depends on who's doing the defining.

Mel~ Lol, I was never offended, but being the dear-heart she just wanted to make sure. Her desire to explain made me question 'what the heck is a hippie anyway?'

skinnylittleblonde said...

Kharma~ We must have been typing in sync! Lol, yes...I remember once when one of my high school friends met with a pretty uppity girl in college who in an ever-so-degrading tone of voice said 'what do you want to do when you graduate a flower child?' I laughed at her & said 'matter-of-a-fact, that doesn't sound bad at all. It was my childhood dream.' She rolled her eyes & I just smiled. Ten years later, I think I've reaped the benefit of life more so from flowers, peace & love more than I could ever hope to from some silly sheet of academic achievement award. Life teaches us more than any classroom ever could. P&L!

Hammer said...

Interesting. I guess the term isn't as negative as I once thought.

I remember leftover stereotypical hippies from the 70's dirty, jobless and perpetually high. But in retrospect I guess they were just bums that dressed like hippies.

SpongyBones said...

Hippie = one hot as hell, open minded, understanding of all, peace loving, gentle spirit, giver that I wish I could be = Skinny Little Blonde ... yeppers you're an OLD Hippie!

I wouldn't even care if you did or still did all the negative actions with it. You are who you are and I for one think your pretty amazing!

eric1313 said...

My mom was a flower child! She liked sabbath and zepplin and said they only wore bell bottoms because that's all anyone sold.

I loved this last night, too, but I was so tired. Now I don't have time. It never balances out...

But peace will win... I feel it working.

Love that you caught two fire flies before the veil pulled to close on you. Careful! I'd bet that Soddom and Gomorah caught a meteor or two! Literally! And leter, when people tried to explain the unknowable "why?", they ended up blaming it on them, like peole still do to this day. (every city in the ancient world carried on like them.)

That's why it so bad when insurance calls earthquakes and other such disasters "acts of god", they blame it on Him who cannot deny such tripe. Even though god doesn't up and destroy things and hasn't since the flood of Noah, to be technical about it. A covenant was struck that agreed to this.

Anyway, how did I get on that?

I'm just a midnight rambler hungover at two forty five.

I got a gleam in my eyes
and a secret word:

the blue lady said that...
you know her well...

skinnylittleblonde said...

Hammer~ Lol...I had to admit I was quite surprised to find out so much about a simple little forty-something year old word. Really, I guess it means different things to different folks.

Spongy~ OLD! Hahaha...just being older than you doesn't make me OLD it just makes me ummmmmm...older than you. You'd have to find my diaries to find out all dissident things I have done & then, well then, you'd realize that age & hiipiedom is all a state of mind ;) P&L, my friend!

Eric1313- LOL, Sabbath & Zeppelin are definitely on my top ten too.
I think insurance companies, like most organizations (um, even a good bit of, ahem, don't kill me people, churches) in a capitalistic society, are all about the almighty dollar. Yes, IMHO, they will use God in whatever way they can to reap the benefits. So, I guess in that aspect I am a hippie. are a hippie too, i just know it... a very creative & profound one at that. P&L

eric1313 said...

Awwwwww, I couldn't wait to reply and say thanks for the words. Nobody around here is like any of you. I can actually be open, more open than anywhere else in my life.

I feel free to create and write and make everything work. Thanks for the words, my friend. I'm a hippie all the way, from my long haired burnout past to my short hair stubble present, hippie is the state that my mind is in.

Scott from Oregon said...

Have I been to Takilma?

Our whole crew (except me) is from Takilma.

So, uh... yeah. I've been there a few times.

(You have to avoid the dirty naked people as you go in, though).

karma lennon said...

Thanks. I like what you said about saving us investing our energies in a losing battle. That's very true.....

karma lennon said...

I'm so sorry to hear that! Unless you're happier now in which case, yay for you. Still hurts though I know. No more love for me, I think.

karma lennon said...

LOl-you're right, we really should be chatting! :)

I know there are perks to being broken hearted but I don't know when they come. Right now everything's grey and thankfully I've gone a bit numb. Already punishing myself though-can't help that. But there are reasons I should be. Trust me.

I don't think I believe in the marriage concept, I just don't know. And love always ends badly for me. Maybe I'm too tired and confused to think straight right now though....

Bardouble29 said...

To me there is no one single word that describes you.

Open, loving, hugging, happy, free-spirited, creative, smart, can one word like "hippie" describe the SKL who is my friend....

Just thought I'd through that out there!

she said...

i had no idea! -thank you for this post

from your gypsy friend

(what does that really mean, i wonder?)

SpongyBones said...

Hippies diarys now that my friend would be one hell of a read ... all your little tales! We could make a cartoon for sat morning out of them. We would be rich!!!!

SJ said...

According to your friend I am a hippie too.

First visit - have seen you around blogland thought I would drop in :)

Dee said...

Hey SLB,
My buddy from California met Timothy Leary before he died.
Check out his pictures

He is single by the way. Totally cool guy. Lives about 2 miles from the beach too. I've known him over 10 years, he's a great friend.

skinnylittleblonde said...

BarD- are too kind in your words. 'Skinny' would be the one word I have heard most often throughout my lifetime.

She~ Lol...I know who knew there was soooo much behind such a simple sounding word. Much Love My Gypsy Friend!

sj~ well, thanks for dropping in. A friend of a friend is usually a friend ;) Maybe we all have a little hippie in us...

dee ~ hahaha...are you trying to set me up with the 'single' plug?! Just kidding! I am nowhere even remotely close to dating or even entertaining such thoughts. Thanks for the link...he has egads of photos! P&L my colorful dragonfly!

Max-e said...

Loved your post. Brought back many memories from the 60's. We have many of the hippie generation still living the dream in the Eastern Cape - complete with the beards, long hair, bright clothes and the long boards (many still surf).
To me being a hippie was very much a state of mind and a free spirit.

david mcmahon said...

I got called a hippie once, but I think it's because I was on my way to the tennis club - and I had long hair and a headband a la McEnroe!

In retrospect, it wasn't a good look!

Shimmerrings said...

Hippies... I usually like'em... used to be one, I suppose... though some people I know, who used to be hippies, now talk down about those who still wear the hair. And myself, I trusted a family member to cut an inch or two off... and they wacked off about 5 or 6... and their excuse was, "well, I don't know how to tell you this, without hurting your feelings, but your hair made you look like a dried up hippy from the 70's." Little did he know. When relating this to one of my best buddies, for many years... who happens to still wear his hair half way down his back, I said, "maybe I like looking like a dried up old hippy from the 70's"... to which he hi-5'd me. Course, my significant other has indicated that I can't wear my hair like that, I'm too old. Bah! There are many more, on a regular basis, who tell me that they love my hair, silver and all. Course, my nephew may have done me a favor (though he crossed a huge personal boundary, which caused me to lose some trust in him) ... but, my hair had been singed from the intense heat that sources from my significant other's wood fired kiln, while standing too close to it, one cold winter night... and, I had been stuck in this "I can't cut my hair" mode, cause my husband, who had died, had been the last to cut it, and he did it so well, I trusted him with it... and now he was gone... soooo, it actually did look better, once my nephew ran past my personal boundary and snipped quite a bit off. But, I haven't let him cut my hair sense. The point was, lol... don't try and insult me by telling me that I look like a hippy (as many other people have) ... I'm too old to be insulted about that, having passed through those care-free and free-spirited days. I've been told that I am a free spirit, too... and I hope to never lose that part of me, though there are those who try.

eric313 said...

Be cool, my friend. Hope the world is falling into place and you can relax. I hope peace grows for you every day. I'd bet it does.

"Ohhhh I realize that I've been hypnotized by your gypsy eyes"
that song's awesome, you know it, don't you? From an album called Electric Ladyland... of course.

Hippies gave birth to rock and roll as we know it. Hendrix and Clapton and Page and the list goes on... Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd is underrated for his guitar playing and singing, Kieth Richards is a legend, Janice was a tragedy...

The hippies are our culture--hands down, they are the ones whose dirty little fingerprints are all over everythng that's good.
peace out

paddy said...

"On Raglan Road on an autumn day I met her first and knew
That her dark hair would weave a snare that I might one day rue;
I saw the danger, yet I walked along the enchanted way,
And I said, let grief be a fallen leaf at the dawning of the day.

On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge
Of the deep ravine where can be seen the worth of passion's pledge,
The Queen of Hearts still making tarts and I not making hay -
O I loved too much and by such and such is happiness thrown away.

I gave her gifts of the mind I gave her the secret sign that's known
To the artists who have known the true gods of sound and stone
And word and tint. I did not stint for I gave her poems to say.
With her own name there and her own dark hair like clouds over fields of May

On a quiet street where old ghosts meet I see her walking now
Away from me so hurriedly my reason must allow
That I had wooed not as I should a creature made of clay -
When the angel woos the clay he'd lose his wings at the dawn of day."

Patrick Kavanagh

eric313 said...

drop by later on. Got some beautiful stories on the wall...

Tai said...

The right-wing tries to tell us otherwise, but the values of the '60s are actually bedrock American values: peace, love, social justice, fairness, equal opportunity, etc. Hippie should be a badge of honor!

singleton said...

amen, Tai!

Angela Marie said...

I agree tai!

very interesting paige. You shed a lot of light.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Max-E~ Welcome to my little spot in the shade ... 'To me being a hippie was very much a state of mind and a free spirit.' I agree completely!

David~ So funny...I guess folks can get called a hippie for reasons ranging from haircuts & clothing to political perspectives & personal life choices. Gotta love it!

Shimmerings~ LOL, long hair or not, you still have that sweet soulfulness about you that I recognize as being in all the women I love & admire in my life! I was called an OLD hippie just today!

Eric1313~ Did you know that Hendrix was set to open for the Monkee's before Woodstock & after 2 wks he quit because he was getting boo'd off the stage? Talk about being busted flat...

Paddy~ Thank you for sharing...

The Seed and The Soil

Somebody is moving across the headlands
Talking to himself
A grey thinker.

The clay is whitening in the windy light
Where the sparrows are bathing.
To-morrow surely
The seed will go under the harrow
Nothing must hinder
The wooing of grain and clay.

*The following lines are crossed out:

'The sheet will be knotted across round shoulders,
An arm and a sling to scatter truth
A sensual green about the stubborn boulders'

-Patrick Kavanagh

singleton said...


skinnylittleblonde said...

Eric~ Just kicked my shoes & such off for the day & soon I'll wander always have something beautiful waiting!

TAI~ Okay Girl! You receive the AMEN AWARD of the day! Lol...even my parents, who would never use the term to describe themselves, embody the spirit you describe. Obviously this perspective has been around alot longer than the label. peace & love!

Singleton~ Clink! xoxoxox... i love you sister!

Angela Marie~ Shedding light thanks to someone trying to clarify 'their' definition of the word ... who knew?! Peace Dear Lady!
Angela Marie~

skinnylittleblonde said...

no cussing...ily

eric313 said...

I did totally know that! Peter Tork from the Monkies and Jimi were good friends, even.

Another big reason he quit the tour was they were about to start the south eastern leg of the tour, and death threats were starting to pour in from men who didn't want their daughters to see his wild show--he set the guitar on fire during several of the monkees gigs.

Read "Scuse Me While I Kiss The Sky". It's awesome. Also, btw, read "Paperback Writer", it's a fictitious account of the Beatles career, hilarious reading from beginning to end.

eric313 said...

Thanks, Skinny. For your words.

The poems I write are better than the memories partly because its good not to look back in anger. That, and I combine old reminisence with new ideas that I pick up from new friends. Thank you for being a part of that process. Of course, Sing is incredible when it come to inspiration. You two are so great, I just hope you know that.

...but you do know! Of course you do, that's why you both lust for life and its joys so much.
TY on the comments

Shrink Wrapped Scream said...

Cool! I missed out on most of this, but I did hang love beads round my neck for a decade or two. (Thank God I didn't miss out on the pill..) Grin.